Woman files lawsuit over Oceano Dunes death

February 26, 2015

dunesThe daughter of a Grover Beach man who was the victim of a fatal accident at the Oceano Dunes last year filed a lawsuit for wrongful death.

On Feb. 20, Kathryn Tatum filed the lawsuit in San Luis Obispo Superior Court against Dustin Van Phillips and his employer, Luv2Camp, for wrongful death. Tatum is seeking unspecified compensatory damages.

On the evening of Dec. 28, Grover Beach resident Bryon Tatum, 52, stopped his truck to take a flag down from his vehicle as he planned to leave the beach. A pickup truck then hit him from behind, fatally injuring him.

The truck that killed Tatum was driven by Dustin Van Phillips, an employee of trailer rental company Luv 2 Camp. Phillips had likely just completed a trailer delivery, according to the CHP.

State parks officials said there is no indication that speed or alcohol played a role in the crash. An investigation into the collision is ongoing.

The suit claims Van Phillips became distracted and looked down, then looked up before crashing into Tatum.

Extremely Stoic

The last sentence in the article describes the action of one texting, if that’s the case, make em pay. Texting is no accident, it is deliberent.


Stoic-There’s a lot going probably in that 100′ or so coming off that beach. From ensuring you’re out of four wheel drive (possibly a shifter on the floor near his right foot) to a thousand other distractions.

An accident is simply that……..an unplanned event. Why would texting rise to the top of your “hang em high” list? Just curious.


Some lawsuits defy logic, like that lady crossing the street at the Cliffs at night wearing black while texting on her phone. In my opinion she was 100% at fault. If they can prove the guy was on his phone when this accident happened, I hope they win. Actually, I would want to see criminal charges if he was on his phone.

Just yesterday I was driving back from Santa Maria around noon and the slow lane on 101 just before AG was slow as heck. There was a small red car with an older gentleman (Indian or South Asian looking, not that that matters) TEXTING ON HIS PHONE! He was going 50 mph or so and, as I passed, I noticed he was looking down, looking up, looking down with his phone in his hand. As I drove past looking in my rearview mirror, he was still at it and weaving slightly. In another incident, I actually saw a guy drive by me on the 101 south of Gaviota that I at first thought was drunk but as he drove by I saw him texting (this was before the law was enacted). Just past El Cap, he wrecked and rolled over. Sobering. And then there’s the bicyclist killed east of Santa Maria by a girl texting. Sorry for the long rant, but if this kid was on his cell and killed this guy, no mercy from me.

Kevin Rice

Hmmm. So he was watching his phone, and you were watching him, and no one is watching the road.


Kevin. What? Regarding that driver, I was driving south on 101 just before the turns at Gaviota. This pickup driver (it was a Blue newer F150) entered 101 from Highway 1. I was in the slow lane. He came up on me in the fast lane making those kind of jerky movements like drunks do. That’s how he caught my eye in the rear view mirror. Just me and him on the highway at this time. As he passed me I looked at him and he was steering with his left hand and texting with his right hand. He was going 5 miles or so per hour faster than me. I didn’t see him again after I lost sight of him until just past El Capitan. As I came over the rise just past El Cap I saw a cloud of dust about a mile ahead. There were 4-5 cars and trucks a ways in front of me that all slammed on their brakes and pulled over to the right side. By the time I got up to them all the people were jumping out of their vehicles. Over to the right, about 100 feet off the road in a bunch of brush was that Blue pickup on its roof. I was thinking of stopping also, but I was past them by quite a bit at this time. And it seemed like there were enough people there to help. Frankly, you wonder what to do in circumstances like this. Anyway, after driving about 5 more miles there were a bunch of fire trucks coming up from Goleta. I tried to find out about the accident later but couldn’t find anything in the Santa Barbara press on-line. I remember this like it was yesterday. Did I ever pick up my phone when I heard an email arrive while driving? Yes, I will admit it. But not after that.

The law that outlawed the use of cell phones is a good one. I would go one step further. I would require the cell phone companies to install software that stops all communication with cell phones if the phone is moving more than 15 miles per hour. I know that will upset a lot of drivers that “think” they can drive safely hands free, but I would still support it.


It’s sad that someone died. But it happens every day all over the world. Hopefully the man who died was wise enough to have auto, health and life insurance, which will all pay something for the loss. Luv2camp also should have insurance, which may or may not be paying. There is not enough info given in the article to determine if it is a greedy lawsuit or a necessary one, but when the legal papers start being filed the lawyers get rich and the ratepayers lose. All just a side effect of living in a capitalistic society.


Yes, the lawyers normally get 50% of awards and are a large percentage of the “1%” that everyone, including Robert Reich, is talking about.


Cha Ching!


It sounds like yet another case of distracted driving. An avoidable tragedy that probably didn’t have to happen.


Not a big lawsuit fan but this sounds like a legitimate case.

Rich in MB

In the USA an accident = Lottery Pay Day.

That’s how it’s done and we all pay with higher insurance premiums.


Accidents are no longer just accidents, they are opportunities. Very sad way to look at the loss of a loved one.

3 putt

Wow–These comments are really cold and heartless. Consider the fact that a child has lost their support–financial and emotional.

I can’t imagine anyone wanting to lose a loved one for money. There isn’t enough money in the world to make that trade, but some “help” is in order. There, but for the grace of God…….


Last time I checked when you’re in your 20’s you are not a child. Not knowing the circumstances of her still living at home at that age, it’s not responsible to addresswhy a woman in her 20s was still living at home with her father. Cold and heartless also applies to someone trying to get rich off another persons tragic part in an accident. Not knowing the circumstances regarding his distraction, it is unfair also to make any assumptions with that regard.


Hey what, it does not matter what the cause of distraction was, the driver took his eyes off the”road” and killed someone, Cause of distraction is moot, there is simply NO excuse! Please, I’d like to hear what you consider a justifiable distraction for looking down when you are driving. (just couldn’t stop to look at whatever?)


Hey cat, distracted driving has been around as long as driving as been, it was not started with cellphones. I see women looking into their rear view mirrors putting on mascara frequently, I’ve seen people drop burning cigarettes in their laps, people turn and look at their passengers, or reach around into the back seat to smack their kids. I even had a bee fly into my car that created quite a distraction. It’s not always about cell phones. Distractions happen and sometimes accidents happen because of them, why else would an accident happen? Because someone wanted to have one?????


What, an apologist for distracted driving? Sorry, there is NO excuse for voluntary distraction. None. A bee flies in thru the vent into your face? That’s not avoidable, that’s excusable. We are human. But to take eyes off the road to pick up something, or whatever, that is not essential to driving is simply not excusable. What right do you have to compromise my safety for your convenience? You don’t have that right. At all. Period.


Easy Cat, I don’t drive that way, just saying people are still human and made thoughtless mistakes on a very frequent basis. Accidents happen and always will no matter what the cause. How else would an accident ever happen if people weren’t distracted. Get over yourself, I’m going to wager even your pious self gets distracted from time to time.


Rich, This was not at “accident”; this was a fatal collision caused by distracted, negligent driving. 100% avoidable. Given law enforcement’s history of giving s slap on the wrist when shitty drivers kill someone, a lawsuit is in order. You would likely change your tune if it were your loved one murdered by an idiot driver.


catdude…..it was an accident.